How was the experience of shooting for 13B?
It was great. It took seven years before Vikram (director Vikram Kumar) and I could get together to make a film. I was also tired of supernatural thrillers that relied more on sound effects than actual content to scare the audience. I wanted to do a film that sent chills down your spine, sort of like ‘Sixth Sense’. But this is better as it doesn’t show any ghosts but still manages to scare you.
This is also the first bilingual that I have shot back to back. That was horrifying, because I’m very particular about the fact that my Hindi not have a hint of Tamil and vice versa. To shift between two languages was my biggest victory.
Did you have any unexplained experiences while shooting?
I would rehearse with Vikram and PC Shreeram (DOP) before the entire unit started coming in. By and large, it used to be only three of us on that huge set. So I came in early one day for a scene where I’m supposed to watch TV in the middle of the night. I was rehearsing, believing Vikram and PC were around, not realising that I was alone. So, I continued rehearsing the scene, occasionally asking if the scene was ok. And each time, I would hear someone say, “Great shot!” When I went out, I saw Vikram and PC coming in. I haven’t been able to figure out whose voice I heard!
Have you had any spooky encounters?
Yes. One Christmas, my wife woke up in the morning and announced that “we have to stop abusing nature”. She’d had a terrible nightmare, where we had cut down trees and she was sitting in our house in Mumbai. She saw the whole sea rise up like a huge mountain and engulf the entire city she was in. She could feel the deaths around her. Her last thought was of how much we had abused nature. So, I consoled her and told her that what she had dreamt of was a tsunami… I spelt it out as ‘S-U-N-A-M-I’. I remember it was 2004… I was on my way to a shoot when she called me to say it was spelt with a ‘T’ and added that it had hit Chennai. I was supposed to shoot on the beach that day and she asked me to come back immediately. So, I do believe in the supernatural.
Have you ever been superstitious?
I’m not particularly superstitious. But I have to tell you, it has been really strange. On every 13th day of the film shoot, there would be some disaster and we would have to cancel the shoot or the weather would play havoc with our schedule. There was no way we could shoot at 1300 hours… so, we would stop at 12.55 pm and then resume at 1.55 pm.
Do you think people are more superstitious today?
Vikram has become quite conscious of number 13 now. That’s why we shifted the release date from the 13th of March to the 6th. I’m not superstitious, but can’t speak for others really!
Do you think science holds all the answers, specially about things unseen?
I believe in the power of science and believe in the theory projected in the film that for a positive force to exist there has to be a negative force. So, if there is a god and a fairy, there is an opposite negative force too. If we go to a place of worship to pray for positive energy, there has to be a place where negative energy pours. I do believe in the negative force as well.